Death of The Pickle King

4 out of 5 stars
A very entertaining read. Available on Amazon

“This is a very entertaining read. I became just as interested in Mary Malone’s personal problems as well as the who-dunnit mystery of the pickle king found floating in a pickle vat. The descriptive work is excellent, and the sometimes dry humor of Mary Malone lifts the narrative and gives it a sharp edge. I would certainly look for the next book by this author.” Death of the Pickle King (Mary Malone Mystery Book 3)Unemployed teacher Mary Malone faces a serious dilemma when her private investigator brother Matt, who has been overseas for seven months, announces he is returning to Minnesota in three weeks. How is this amateur sleuth going to explain to him about his missing dog? And what about the murder case.

A Ray Stone review

Making Sense Of Sensory Writing

Reading good writing is like visiting a new country.

You walk through a busy plaza with the characters. A vendor is shredding sugar cane. When the protagonist buys a glass of cloudy green juice, it’s your tongue that tingles at the raw sweetness.

The breathy tones of an amateur flautist drift through an archway towards you.

Further down, the scent of chargrilled onions reaches your nose.

The characters arrive at a souvenir shop. But it’s your fingers that feel the rough warmth of llama wool between them.

You can give your readers the same experience by appealing to different senses when you write.

When I first start writing, I mainly relied on sight. I knew it was important for readers to see the world through the eyes of the characters. I forgot that real people experience life through a range of senses.

You don’t need to bombard your readers with all five senses in every scene.

But moving beyond sight can strengthen and enrich your writing.

Why use sensory details?


Sensory details create a connection between the reader and the writer. When authors convey their characters’ emotions this way, we’re able to identify with their plights.

An example of this is the point of no return in the first half of The Kite Runner. 12-year-old Amir, hidden in a dark alley, witnesses the rape of his friend Hassan.

“I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles.”

– Chapter 7, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini doesn’t need to tell us that Amir is horrified by what he’s seen. We feel his fear and shame at not intervening. It makes him human. Although we want him to jump out and stop the attackers, we understand why he doesn’t. We don’t give up on him. And we read on to see if he will find redemption.


Sensory details also play a part in establishing a sense of place in a reader’s mind. This is crucial if you’re writing about a time or a location that your audience is not familiar with.

Take Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for instance. Her protagonist Claire Randell visits a Scottish stone circle and is transported from 1946 to 1743. Gabaldon paints a vivid picture of eighteenth century life through small sensory details scattered throughout the novel. This helps us suspend belief and travel back in time with Claire.

In Chapter 8, Claire attends festivities in the great hall of Castle Leoch. She describes the large log fire burning on the hearth, the Laird’s carved chair and bell-shaped wine decanter. But it’s only when she combines these visual details with her other impressions that the scene really comes to life. We taste “each sip of nectar” when Claire tries Callum’s French wine. We listen to the minstrel plucking at his harp. And we hear the “pine torches crackling all along the walls.”


Finally, sensory details are vital for evoking a particular feeling or atmosphere in stories. Just look at the terrible sense of foreboding that’s built up throughout The Hound of the Baskervilles.

“As if in answer to his words there rose suddenly out of the vast gloom of the moor that strange cry which I had already heard upon the borders of the great Grimpen Mire. It came with the wind through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter, then a rising howl, and the sad moan in which it died away. Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it, strident, wild and menacing.”

– Chapter 9, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Imagine if Holmes and Watson had glimpsed the Hound in this scene instead of hearing it? The story would have lost its impact. As we read on, the Hound grows even more terrifying and mysterious, but only because we don’t get to see it.

So how can you include more sensory details in your writing?

It’s hardly surprising that we focus on visual details in our writing. We spend so much time looking at the world through a screen. Computers at work, selfies on holiday and smartphones on public transport.

Overuse of technology is numbing our senses.

If you want to include more sensory details in your writing, start growing your awareness of your other senses in everyday life. This is something I started doing after I missed my stop one day because I was too busy looking at my phone!

Instead of spending every train trip on your phone, use some of your journeys to observe what’s going on around you. What can you hear? Tinny music escaping earbuds? Rustling newspapers? A dry, scratchy cough from the guy in the seat behind? What about smells? Damp clothing? Burnt coffee beans? What can you feel? Scratchy polyamide seats rubbing against your thighs? The centre pole digging into your rib cage?

Go for a walk in your lunch break and try the same task. If you can’t get away from your workplace, do this activity in your staff kitchen or cafeteria.

Sharpening your senses is all about noticing your surroundings and being fully present in the activity that you’re doing. That could be anything from driving on the freeway to brushing your teeth. It’s something you can try at anytime. I’ve recently taken up pilates and here are a few sensory notes I made after one of my classes.

As we finish the last set, I feel the warmth in my scalp as the sweat trickles between my hair roots. My legs shake with the aftershock. The instructor passes us wet wipes to clean down the equipment for the next class. A passing odour of sweat mingled with disinfectant. Then I’m out in reception. Cheerful voices. The creaking and banging of locker doors. We cluster around the glass jugs of camomile tea resting on oil burners, stiff fingers clasping paper cups. I take a sip, savoring the flowery aftertaste that rolls over my parched tongue.

When I’m reading, I also try to pay attention to how writers incorporate different senses into their work.

Don’t restrict yourself to books. TV series are also great places for picking up sensory language. Watch cooking programmes, interior design series, talent shows and advertisements. What language do they use to describe the tastes, smells, sounds and textures they come across?


So many of us are drawn to writing because we feel like we’re only skimming the surface if we don’t pick up a pen and dive in. Creative writing gives us the medium to go deeper and really immerse ourselves in life.

Natalie Goldberg sums this up perfectly in her book, Writing Down the Bones.

“Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.

– Living Twice, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Listen to the world.

Smell it, taste it, touch it.

Engage your senses in everything you do.

That way you’ll get to live both your lives to their fullest potential.

by Linda Alley

Writer and teacher

The Trojan Towers

My first novel – published in 2005 and still going strong on

Chapter One

Raithe’s eyes focused on the face. He could feel a hand gently shaking his shoulder.
“Charring Cross, sir?”
“Thanks.” He yawned deeply and stretched. His body ached from the awkward position he’d slept in. The guard left him and walked on, whistling.
Raithe yawned again. Bad memories haunted him every time he fell asleep: every time he was reminded by the guards, and every time he was beaten by Frank Parson and his thugs. When the cell door banged shut at night he heard the shot, again and again, echoing through his head.
He wiped the window with the back of a sleeve and looked out with tired eyes. Most of the passengers had left the train and were walking down the platform. He focused on the reflection of black wavy hair graying at the sides. The face, once tanned and chiseled, was now lean with a sickly gray pallor to it. It was growing old prematurely. A fresh scar, a thin red line, ran across his chin at an angle. Hidden under his right eyebrow was a thin white line, another much older scar, and on his right jaw was a small scab. He stood up, shivered, and pulled the long woolen navy coat around him. The light gray suit underneath fitted like a glove.
Using the sparsely equipped gymnasium at the prison was a daily routine. Over six feet tall, his body had stayed lean. The workouts made him strong in the arms and chest. He had to be. The beatings became a regular test of his endurance. Asking for solitary, rule 43, became a necessity in the end and although he was not completely free from attack in the segregation unit, things did get better.
For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, he felt like a human being again. He adjusted his tie and reminded himself to thank Harry. It was Harry who’d bought him all his clothes and had them delivered in time for the appeal hearing. Smart in crisp white shirt and gray suit, he took Harry’s advice and looked their Lordships straight in the eye, never allowing his head to drop. His counsel clinically and systematically proved beyond doubt that the police evidence was at the very least, tainted.
Their Lordships didn’t need time to deliberate but agreed without retiring. In his summing up, Lord Fenwick was scathing in his criticism of the police investigation. No real forensic evidence was produced to show that Raithe Ravell had been the actual murderer of three-year-old Amanda Stevenson. It was also clear that the police had tampered with witness statements and ‘mislaid’ vital evidence since found, that proved the fatal shot came from the direction of the getaway car. There was a statement from a bank employee who’d been adamant that shots were fired inside the bank. No bullet holes were found, giving credence to Ravel’s statement that he only fired blanks in order to frighten people.
He concluded that whilst Ravell was guilty of a terrible crime, that of murder, planned or otherwise during the committing of a robbery, it was not his hand that had actually killed the child. His sentence should not have been life with a recommended minimum of fifteen years; it should have been life with a recommended minimum of eight years.
“The court recognizes that the defendant admitted his part in the robbery when arrested. It also takes into account his prison record that shows him to have co-operated in reform programs during the nine years that he has served. The Home Office is therefore satisfied that he does not represent a danger to the public.”
Raithe showed no emotion as the court released him, except a brief smile when it was announced that there would be an inquiry into the conduct of the police.
No one had believed him. Now they would. Soon he would settle the account. Harry warned him not to do anything stupid. There’d be plenty of time to sort the bastard out. Harry was always right.
Raithe stepped out of the carriage, his coat flapping in the stiff breeze. He looked up at the platform clock. It showed five past three. He fingered the postcard in his pocket and knew that Maggie, his mother in law, would have heard the verdict and passed it on to Terri. Maggie never liked him and spent no time at all in letting him know it. He was a no good petty crook. That’s what she’d called him at their first meeting.
Terri was a stunner. She never went anywhere without making up. Bright red lipstick, long red nails and a hint of Chanel, she was the long-haired blonde with deep blue eyes who featured in the ‘Mickey Spillane’ stories. The boys in the local club all agreed to that. Her tall hourglass figure turned heads. Everyone wanted her but she only had eyes for Raithe.
They were introduced by one of his friends. Within a couple of months, they were seeing each other several times a week. Maggie wouldn’t let him in the house but he didn’t care. Terri would marry him come what may. A year later, just after Maggie moved to Southampton, Terri married him in Stepney Registry Office.
It wasn’t until Natalie was born that he stepped inside Maggie’s house for the first time. By then Terri’s father was dead and Maggie lived alone. She doted on the child and despite her misgivings about his criminal activities, invited Raithe and the family down from London for long weekends.
Raithe never concealed anything about his business from Terri. He didn’t have to. She never asked him about it or interfered. A month before the robbery, however, she did.
In the back room of their basement apartment in Stepney, he and the boys met one night a week to play cards and discuss impending business. At one particularly long meeting, Terri had unexpectedly brought some tea and sandwiches into the room. He saw her face as Peter tried to hide the revolver. She looked accusingly at him but said nothing until they were alone. For days she tried to make him get rid of the gun but he wouldn’t listen. He tried to explain that the gun was going to fire blanks. They argued and in the end, he arranged with Maggie for Terri and the baby to go to Southampton. By then Natalie was five. He told them both he would see them after the weekend, back in Southampton. It was not to be. The next time he saw Terri he was on remand in Wormwood Scrubs.
Outside the main ticket hall, he hailed a cab and climbed in, glad to be out of the wind. “St. Katherine’s Dock, please.”
The cab sped off and Raithe closed his eyes. For the last week, since his release, he’d found it difficult to sleep in the hostel room the Social Services had found for him. For three days he sat looking out of the window, unable to venture out and walk down the street. It felt strange watching people shopping and walking nearby or seeing a dog pee up against a lamppost. It was as though he were in a prison without walls.
Harry hadn’t been able to meet him right away and they’d made arrangements to meet at St. Katherine’s a week later. He couldn’t go home. There was no home to go to. Terri was in Spain according to the postcard she’d sent.
A year after being transferred to HM Prison Strangeways, he told her not to keep making the train journey each week. It was best for her and Natalie if she stayed at home and they wrote. She could visit again when he was moved back south. In truth, it became more and more difficult to keep his injuries from her. His face always had some bruise on it and she remarked on one visit about a bandage that covered two fingers on one hand. Two cons had jumped him on the landing and held him down. The guards watched on as Parsons, the ‘A’ Wing capo, stamped on the outstretched hand. They’d even cheered.
Watching Terri leave broke his heart. That was the last time they saw each other. She said she would wait but in the years that followed her letters eventually stopped arriving. He missed seeing Natalie growing up but not hearing from her was worse. One letter after another was sent to Maggie’s address, in case Terri had moved. Nothing came back. In the end, he gave up. That was the most miserable time of his life.
He did get a letter once a month from Harry.
The two men had first met in Harry’s shop in Hatton Garden shortly after Raithe stole some highly valuable jewelry from a country house. The old Jew with a genial smile immediately impressed him. Around five feet six tall and dressed in a smart pinstripe suit, he was big physically with a balding shiny head and black bushy eyebrows. A large cigar was balanced precariously between his lips as he’d studied the jewelry through thick-rimmed glasses. Harry was Raithe’s idea of what a rich Jewish businessman looked like and it excited him to be associated with the man.
When he received the first letter from Harry he expected the old man to commiserate with him. Instead, he was surprised and a little annoyed to find that he was torn off a strip for being so stupid. Harry left him alone for two months before he wrote again. After that he wrote regularly. His letters meant so much for they were the only contact with the outside world. Although he never told Harry about his treatment, it was Harry who suggested that he take Rule 43. Harry knew. No one had to tell him.
“Main entrance, guv’?”
“Yes please.”
The cab crawled along East Smithfield and stopped in the middle of the road, opposite the dock entrance. After the traffic had cleared, the cab U-turned and pulled into the curb. Raithe gave the driver his last five-pound note, slammed the door behind him and walked across the cobblestones into the dock.
Lines of cruisers and yachts of all sizes swayed gently up and down at their moorings. The Seagull, a Thames Barge, lay moored at one end of the marina. Behind her the floating museum collection of marine craft lay lifeless and devoid of visitors.
On one of the larger cruisers, a well-built man sat in the aft deck-well reading a newspaper. Dressed in bright orange sou’wester and green cords, he looked oblivious to the chill air. The craft was bathed in bright sunlight from the autumn sun while most of the quayside next to it lay in deep shadow from the tall buildings and shops that skirted the marina. From outside the chandlers, Raithe watched the man.
Harry Cohen was everything expected of an upper-class Jewish gentleman. Respected businessman, pillar of society, successful and very rich, his reputation across Europe as a first-class dealer in fine art and rare stones was unsurpassable. His colleagues, including top executives and assessors from major insurance companies, trusted him both as a friend and business associate. He knew where most of the rarer pieces of jewelry and stones were and who owned them. More importantly, he knew who was fishing in the market and for what.
Now and then Harry would acquire certain items for the more discerning of his clientele, especially those with huge financial assets to invest. Americans, Japanese and royalty were reputed to be among those who enjoyed his special confidential services.
He did business with others too; people who supplied on demand or came into possession of items that he could place with ease. These were people who never attended any of his cocktail parties. None-the-less, he had total respect in both camps, something he had enjoyed for many years.
Raithe knew he was an exception to the rule. Educated in Grammar school, Harry told him he was impressed with his general knowledge of literature and fine art, in particular paintings and gemstones. Harry taught him a lot once he had earned the old man’s trust and it hadn’t taken long to do that.
On his second visit to the shop, he was asked to wait while Harry did business with a dealer upstairs. After several minutes a small foreign-looking man came downstairs into the showroom. In one hand he carried a briefcase and in the other a small leather bag. Stopping at the counter to place the small bag in the briefcase, the contents had spilled out. Raithe watched the man put the small stones back into the bag. After snapping the briefcase shut, the man had turned to leave.
Harry’s assistant was standing by the door, ready to see the dealer out and into a cab. As the dealer left, something dropped from the counter top to the floor. Raithe bent down and picked up a small diamond. The door closed behind the dealer and Raithe dashed out into the street after him. He handed the surprised dealer the diamond.
Back in the shop, Harry stood eyeing him, as though weighing him up. He said nothing about the incident until the next time they met when he informed Raithe that he would teach him a little about the business.
A little turned out to be a lot and a genuine friendship developed over the next three years. Harry became a father figure who could be relied on for sound advice, not only on business matters but on matters of the heart and family as well.
Peter and James never knew that Harry existed, not even Terri. It was a secret that Harry insisted he keep. It wasn’t just because of security, important as it was for only the select few to know of his hidden talents. He didn’t like what he’d heard about the men. Raithe and the two men were friends from the same school and Harry didn’t trust them. Peter was too devious and James liked talking about himself too much. He liked talking to other people too, especially women. Harry saw that as a bad flaw.
All this was before the robbery. Even though his friend still supported him, Raithe wondered if things would ever be the same again. He’d violated the trust they shared in each other and completely disregarded Harry’s advice. A child was dead and Harry would never forgive him for that.
He crossed from the shadow of the tall buildings into the sunlight and felt the breeze on his back. There were no other people around but he felt strangely conspicuous; the same feeling he’d experienced the first day in prison. No one was around as he crossed the landing ahead of the guards, their feet making the only audible sound on the grating, yet he felt a thousand eyes burning into his back.

Tomorrow is a Life Away

Tomorrow is a life away
Must I wait till then
Tomorrow sometimes never comes
For an author’s pen
I close my eyes to see you
Whenever I’m alone
I’m here for you my magic girl
My heart’s your secret home

Ride around the universe
Music fills the air
Find our rainbows end
Climb the coloured stair
Our love is getting stronger
The more we are apart
Waiting for the next time
Kisses melt my heart

Sitting in the darkness
Saying our goodbyes
Smile in close-up now
Flash those sparkling eyes
From girl next door to lover
I’ve fallen for your charm
Waiting for that next dream
When beauty holds my arm

Feelings change in seconds
Pulling us apart
Hold me closer now
The daydreaming’s gonna start
There are so many others
But none love you as much
Goddess of the widescreen
I’m yearning for your touch

Ray Stone 2003

Sitting in the back row on Saturday afternoon in the local picture house with nothing better to do. When I was twenty, I waved to Sophia Loren as I drove past her villa on the Amalfi Road, southern Italy. Sadly she did not wave back so I married someone else.


My latest serial chapter for the Story Mint. Check in and follow the serial so far.

Annie stood trembling, her back to the door. With one hand over her mouth and eyes closed, she waited for the rapping knuckles to stop and leave her alone. But they didn’t. She was frightened. Whoever was outside her door was impatient and probably violent. 
Unable to contain her fear any longer, Annie turned and shouted. “Go away…go away. I’m an olden. Leave me alone. Bugger off ya swine.”
The rapping stopped, and Annie’s sigh of relief was cut short and turned into a piercing scream as the door splintered with a loud crash.
A hand grabbed Annie around her throat, forcing her into silence. Pushed back into the room, she looked into steely blue eyes and a mass of black hair. The gruff voice sent shivers through her.
“Where is it? What have you done with it?”
Annie choked, her frightened eyes looking at the threatening face inches from hers.
“I dunno what yer talkin’ ‘bout. Leave me alone,” she said, defiantly.
The stranger’s voice changed and took on a more conciliatory tone. “Look, lovey, you look as though you could do with some green.” He waved a hand across the room. “How about a grand…cash. I’ve got it here.”
The stranger pulled a roll of notes from his pocket. With a weak smile, he waved the roll in front of Annie.
“I told ya, I dunno what ya talkin’ about.” 
She winced and gasped as the stranger slapped her. A second sent her falling to the ground. She lay in a daze as the intruder stepped over her.
Lionel King disliked hurting the lady, but he had to get the painting. Thom was different. He had to be silenced. The two met while sharing a cell at Folsom, and Lionel soon regretted the work promise he made. After being hired to buy the painting and deliver it, Thom decided to keep it after hearing Lionel’s conversation with the buyer. 
“It’s Colin McCahon’s work and worth a million. Trouble is there are copies, so we need them all. The original has initials hidden in the waterfall.” 
Lionel was following Thom when the lad took the painting into the apartment instead of sticking to the plan. 
“Now where the hell is it?” he muttered. He found it a minute later under the bed.
Chief Inspector Karen Simonivic flicked the recording back and then froze the picture. A man she knew well entered the small art shop. “Lionel King, your not there to enjoy the art,” she muttered. “But you bought a painting. I wonder if it was called ‘Waterfall.”
Her cellphone buzzed. “Simonivic.”
Her partner, Lieutenant Rizzo, sounded tense.
“We got a real problem. The kid was in Folsom. Guess who his cellmate was?”
“You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Another thing. While I was getting a statement from his Uncle, the old girl you spoke to…she lives next door, had someone break in and slap her around.”
“Find out about that painting. I’m on my way.”P


You captured the characters in their dialogue. It was great – short and snappy. My eye glided down the page and I was in the room. Really good read with plenty for the next writer to pick up on. – Suraya Dewing

Feedback is essential for writers

Giving writers useful feedback is a difficult thing to do. Readers are afraid they might offend and writers worry about upsetting another struggling writer.

Its hard to get a writing career off the ground

They know it’s hard enough to get a writing career off the ground without people saying in blunt terms what they think is wrong. To ask for feedback takes courage. Yet, getting people’s reactions is important. If you get feedback before you publish you might just avoid the horror of discovering some terrible mistake after the book is published.

The purpose of feedback is to assist a writer to create a compelling story. It is not designed to flatter nor should it make a writer feel inadequate. 

Receiving feedback is a critical part of a writer’s journey. Writers who give useful feedback do the writer a great service.

Without it, writers are left to work in a vacuum, not knowing what is going to engage a reader and what might make a reader yawn. As writers, we are close to everything we write and feedback can sometimes be quite confronting.

Writers write from a vulnerable place

That is because what we write comes from our vulnerable selves, a soft fleshy place that is prone to bleeding if prodded too harshly. Yet it is from this place, usually unseen by passers by, that writers produce their best work.

This gives writing authenticity. 

However, writing from our most vulnerable place gives writing authenticity. While getting feedback can be nerve-wracking, writers miss opportunities to attract readers if they do not seek it out. It is an opportunity to involve readers prior to publishing. Readers who have had input into a story feel a sense of ownership and they are more likely to buy the finished book. 

Involving readers

Involving readers in the writing process enables a writer to grow a following. This is important in itself. The world is awash with stories and only the best will survive. The most outstanding will rise to the top with the help of a following that feels involved in the writing process. 

This does not mean that writers compromise their story. Feedback should point out where the story did not deliver on its promise…not suggest an entirely new story line. 

There is a lot to consider when writing

There are so many things to consider when writing. For example, is the writing tight or floppy about the edges? Is there too much or too little dialogue? Is it convincing? Does the story have an inciting event that sets the story on its way? Does it have a convincing climax, a believable resolution…? Those are just a few points to consider. There are many more.

Constructive feedback

The Story Mint encourages readers to give writers feedback. The only stipulation is that the feedback be constructive and helpful. The serials enable writers to practice their storytelling skills and to hear from readers. Writers can leave more substantial pieces of work-in-progress on The Writers’ Pad. This is a place where writers can test the market before they publish…see how readers react. They can get private, more in-depth feedback through The Story Mint’s assessment service.

Here are six tips for giving feedback:

  • Start with at least one positive and end with a positive.
  • Be specific. For example, a writer is describing to characters arguing but you, as reader, are not convinced. Explain why.
  • Be constructive. Come up with examples of how someone might approach a problem area without giving them an alternative. Every writer must retain his or her own voice.
  • Be encouraging. A writer has worked long hours to produce the piece of writing you are reading, respect that.
  • Be clear. The clearer you are with your feedback the more you learn about the craft of writing and why you have reacted the way you have.
  • Be encouraging. We don’t want to leave writers feeling as if they should never write again.

Suraya Dewing is the CEO of The Story Mint and creator of Stylefitan automated feedback tool for writers.

The Bilderberg Diary

This is the latest novel I am working on. My popular hero, Enda Osin, returns in a mystery thriller involving an important diary that will blow the lid off a deadly plot hatched by some members of the secretive Bilderberg Society. I hope to publish by the end of the year.  


Adam watched Karla through the window until she walked to the end of the road and turned the corner. Nervous, his fingers fidgeted with the edge of the lace curtain, pulling it back an inch or two so he had a clearer vision of the road below in both directions. Across the city, a bell began to chime, joined unceremoniously by a wailing police siren. Two colored umbrellas flapped open below, catching his attention. The light rain that had persisted all afternoon turned heavy, and within a few seconds, the downpour was bouncing off the pavement. Both of the umbrellas unfurled as the women scurried up some steps and stood in an entrance to shield from the rai
It was then that Adam noticed a large dark green car turn the corner to his right. It stopped at the steps leading to his block of apartments. A man, shielding his head from the rain with an attaché case, slammed the door behind himself and headed up the steps. Adam breathed deeply and wished he had left with Karla. He moved swiftly to the apartment entrance door and stood still, listening for any noise in the hallway.
There was a soft ping as the lift doors opened. Adam tensed. Despite the carpeted hall, his ears picked up the sound of soft footsteps. He stood without moving and held his breath.

Suraya Dewing – This is brilliant Raymond! I could see the people, what they were doing and also sense the building tension. Loved it!

Joe Labrum – Wow, when will it be ready. Great tease from my favorite character.

Ripped from the Headlines

A new serial concept has just begun at the Story Mint; each chapter up to 1000 words. Follow using the link below.

Hubert Franshaw was sure he hadn’t seen things. After all, a couple in front of him had stopped, looked up and exchanged words before moving on. He took one last look up at the dark sky between the skyscrapers along Main Avenue and dug his cold hands into his jacket pockets. He stepped off the sidewalk and was about to cross the road when a harsh bright light accompanied by the loud noise of an engine and the dull whooshing of helicopter blades made him look up again. With a hand to shield his eyes, he squinted and watched amazed as the helicopter dived to within feet of the ground before rising with earsplitting noise back up between the buildings. Before it disappeared, Hubert noticed military markings and a figure sitting on the cabin floor with both legs hanging over the side.
After walking another block, three helicopters flew across the sky at rooftop level as Hubert
pushed his way through a crowd standing outside Rosie’s Diner. Above the hubbub, he found a corner table and sat with eyes fixed onto the TV screen above the counter. A news reporter was making the most of the “unusual military and police force anti-terrorism exercises.”
“Bullshit if you ask me,” snorted Miranda, a large black waitress. “They’re sayin’ this goes on around the country at all big cities all the time. Bullshit…they ain’t foolin’ me. This all goes back to Roswell if ya ask me.”
Miranda placed a mug on the table and poured coffee. Hubert nodded. The last thing he wanted to do was disagree with Miranda. She had a way of explaining how she was right and why at great length without drawing breath. This was not the time. He needed to think.
“Okay, honeybunch, you want your usual or tonight’s special. We got meatloaf and mash with a pile of fried onion…mmm-mmm.” Her big red lips then puckered into a wide grin.
Hubert nodded again, trying to listen to the newscaster. Whatever was happening was obviously being covered up. If this had been going on around the country for some time as suggested then why had there never been other news stories before that evening?“Hi, Hubert.” Penny Stuart, a fellow student, slid into the seat opposite Hubert and removed her gloves. “You look a little down. What’s up?” Removing her jacket over her shoulders, she flicked long blonde hair out of her eyes.
Both at nineteen, the pair had studied for three years together under Professor Long and were hoping for qualifications that would lead to a career in meteorology for Hubert and astronomy for Penny. Although there was no romantic connection, it was Penny who hinted now and again that friendship was not the only thing on her mind.
“My work was rejected by Professor Long,” he replied glumly. “He said it wasn’t good enough and needed more meat on the bone. Ever since his book was published, his head has been in the clouds.”
They both laughed as Hubert realized he had absent-mindedly caused a pun. Professor Long was a distinguished Meteorologist.
“Have you been listening to the news?” Hubert pointed to the TV. “I was buzzed by one of those helicopters tonight, right down the highway.”
“That’s not the only strange thing going on,” answered Penny. “It would appear that there are strange underground vibrations in various parts of the country too That is accompanied by subterranean booms. They have not said anything about that on the news. It certainly has nothing to do with earthquakes.”
“Maybe we should speak to the professor tomorrow and see what he thinks,” suggested Hubert. “I might get back onto his good side.”
The tall figure of Quinton Long strode along the university corridor towards his laboratory with a bundle of folders under one arm, and his raincoat slung over the other. His lined face was creased in a pained and concerned expression as he ignored several greetings from staff and students. He stepped into the lift and stabbed the button for the observatory on the top floor.
As the doors opened a moment later, Long was greeted by Hubert and Penny.
“Morning Professor, we wonder if you can spare us a minute?”
Without answering, Long looked past the pair. His face dropped and turned pale. Two men in military uniform elbowed past Hubert and stood in front of Long.
Long sighed. “Good morning General. I’m afraid my calculations were a little out yesterday but today we should-”
“We need you to come with us, Professor Long. The Director at Ground 29 is calling an urgent meeting.”
“I have work today. I can’t just drop everything.”
The General’s adjutant turned to Hubert. “On your way, you two.” He waved them away and handed Long an envelope.
“Orders, Professor.” He noticed the files in the professor’s hand. “I’ll take those. Are they reports on last night’s fiasco? Our side of things went well,” he said sarcastically. “Yours didn’t.”
Frustrated, the general tugged Long’s arm. “This can’t wait. We have three days before the lockdown, and we still haven’t perfected the line-up between the satellites and your damn climate exchanger. Our new government in wai…” He suddenly realized Hubert and Penny were within earshot. “Get out,” he barked.
Hubert pulled Penny to the top of the stairs with a finger over his lips. He whispered, “The news, Penny. The General was talking about last night’s exercise.”
She nodded. “What was he referring to…Ground 29? And what about a climate exchanger? Sounds like something funny is going on.”
“There are over 40 huge underground military installations across the country, all connected. Whatever is going on it involves the Pentagon at the highest level. He began to say there was a government in waiting. Would this be a military coup?”
Penny shook her head. “What would the professor’s invention and satellites have to do with a coup?”
“An invasion of some sorts.” Hubert thought for a moment. “We have to find out more about the exchanger and then find out where Ground 29 is.”

Follow the serial here  –

Neon City

Ray Stone 2002

Container port club in Grays Thurrock - this was the roughest night club


Down in the depths of this living hell
A mass of writhing thighs
Flashing lights and glitter tights
No one wins a prize
Up on the street the men in black
Are lookin for some trouble
The face behind the counter smiles
Blink once he'll charge you double
Welcome to the Neon City
The music has just begun
Where coke and weed and cocktails
Are all fused into one
Welcome to the Neon City
Fools dance in time to E
And addicts, pimps and losers
Dream and fly in ecstasy
There's a big blonde giving out the drink
Her fingers on the pulse
DJ's talking to himself
Birthday bubbly's false
The noise is crashing off the walls
VIP's are getting high
The singer's playing her new track
There's some stardust in her eye
The man with no socks has just arrived
Handshakes all round, Mr cool
Bongos are tapping out of time
Johnny calls him fool
Pied piper plays and still they come
Dance till he pulls the plug
Into the pit of hell they go
The music is like a drug
Into the night past the midnight hour
Lights dance across the floor
Upstairs the drunks and riff-raff
Stagger through the door
Music plays, it's getting louder
Bleary eyes can't focus
Jack Daniels laughs, he's done his job
The city's full of jokers


Writers need Feedback

Giving writers useful feedback is a difficult thing to do.  Readers are afraid they might offend and writers worry about upsetting another struggling writer. It’s hard enough to get a writing career off the ground without people saying in blunt terms what they think is wrong.

The purpose of feedback is to assist a writer to create a compelling story. It is not designed to flatter nor should it make a writer feel inadequate.

Receiving feedback is a critical part of a writer’s journey. Writers who give useful feedback do the writer a great service.

Without it, writers are left to work in a vacuum, not knowing what is going to engage a reader and what might make a reader yawn.  As writers, we are close to everything we write. Our words come from our vulnerable selves, a soft fleshy place that is prone to bleeding if prodded too harshly. Yet it is from this place that writers produce their best work. This gives writing authenticity.

While getting feedback can be nerve-wracking, writers miss opportunities to attract readers if they do not seek it out. It is an opportunity to involve readers prior to publishing. Readers who have had input into a story feel a sense of ownership and they are more likely to buy the finished book.

Involving readers in the writing process enables a writer to grow a following. This is important in itself. The world is awash with stories and only the best will survive. The best will rise to the top with the help of a following that feels involved in the writing process.

This does not mean that a writer compromises the story. Feedback should point out where the story did not deliver on its promise…not suggest an entirely new story line.

There are so many ways writing can miss the mark. There are so many things to consider when writing. For example, is the writing tight enough or floppy about the edges? Is there too much or too little dialogue? Is it convincing? Does the story have an inciting event that sets the story on its way? Does it have a convincing climax, a believable resolution…?